"Precisely in this perspective we want to place the commitment resulting from these months in which we have lived with faith the extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy," he said, "which concludes today in the dioceses of the whole world with the closing of the Holy Door in the cathedral churches."
"The Holy Year has urged us, on the one hand, to keep our eyes fixed toward the fulfillment of God's Kingdom and on the other, to build the future of this land, working to evangelize the present, so that it becomes a time of salvation for all."
This past week the oldest wooden crucifix of St. Peter's Basilica, dating from the 14th century, was returned to the church for the devotion of the faithful, the Pope noted.
"After a laborious restoration," the cross "has been restored to its former splendor and will be placed in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel to commemorate the Jubilee of Mercy," he said.
The Vatican marked the Jubilee Year with the addition of many events, including a special audience with the Pope, which happened on one Saturday each month in St. Peter's Square.
There were also many larger events which took place, including a 24-hour long period of Eucharistic adoration and a prayer vigil. Additionally, "jubilees" were held which centered on, among others, the sick and disabled, catechists, teenagers, deacons, priests, religious, volunteers of mercy, and most recently, the poor and homeless.
Pope Francis also spent one Friday a month during the year making private visits to groups he found in special need of being shown God's mercy. These "Mercy Fridays," as they were called, included visits with refugees, victims of sex trafficking, those in hospitals and retirement homes, and children in difficult situations.
Ordinary jubilees occur every 25 or 50 years, and extraordinary jubilees are called for some momentous occasion. Two extraordinary jubilees were called in the 20th century – 1933, to mark the 1900th anniversary of Christ's redemption in 33 A.D., and 1983, its 1950th anniversary.
St. John Paul II also held a "Great Jubilee" in the year 2000, marking the 2000th anniversary of Jesus' birth and the start of the new millennium.
At the start of the Jubilee of Mercy, during a general audience Dec. 9, Pope Francis asked pilgrims, "Why a Jubilee of Mercy? What does this mean?"
The answer, he said, is because "the Church needs this extraordinary moment. I'm not (just) saying 'it's good,' no! I'm saying: the Church needs it."
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